Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Miniature crewel work kits

Original 1:1 firescreen crewel pattern by Phillipa Turnbull of
I love crewel embroidery, mostly because I associate it with the Jacobean period. Of course, crewel work was popular all through the 17th and early 18th centuries, as well, and had a revival in the 19th century along with other "Olde English" handicrafts. (It also had a revival in the 1970s when it was, apparently, used mostly to produce orange owls ... :))  I'm longing to learn how to do it in 1:1 scale, but I'm intrigued with 1:12 scale crewel work, too.

There's a single 1:12 crewel work firescreen in Sue Heaser's book Embroidery Projects, which I look forward to trying.  And I've just heard that miniaturist Cookie Ziemba has come out with a series of darling miniature crewel kits which are for sale on her blog, Cookie's World of Historic Dolls Houses and Miniatures

I find it interesting that there are so many handicrafts I've been interested in trying, and that it's taken getting into miniatures to make me actually explore them :)


  1. I do LOVE crewl work! Do you know if the screen with the birds is a project in Sue's book?
    So many times I have thought a project was in a book, bought it and found it was just a photo of a piece the person had done but did not offer a pattern for.

  2. Oh no, just bought a book today with early American crewel designs and now you put this picture on and I have a pattern for a similar firescreen (the wood part), do we all have crewel fever, think I need some ice on my forehead, too many ideas!!!!! Faint!!!!!!!

  3. Thank you for sharing the link. I love Crewel and have been doing some life-sized bits here and there.

  4. Amazing. The screen is wonderful. shall go and have a look th the link. Thank you for sharing it. Rosanna

  5. Nina, I cannot imagine doing crewel work in 1/12 scale! The stitches are so varied and complex in full scale! It boggles the mind! I love crewel embroidery..... I will be amazed I am sure, at whatever you attempt! I can't wait!

  6. I love crewel work! Especially in soft colours which look as if they are naturally dyed, or faded with age. I know that the original Jacobean colours were very bright - what would you choose, Nina?
    1:12 would be interesting, especially in wool as it is hard to find a fine enough wool thread which isn't fluffy. I imagine a soft non-shiny cotton would work, maybe?
    I imagine it would take a bit of practice! :)
    The screen in the pic is gorgeous :))

  7. Hi, Catherine! The picture is actually full size crewel, just as an illustration, I should have made that clear. Sue Heaser's crewel work firescreen is very pretty but not as fine, obviously :)

    Elga -- yes, it's crewel fever! It's uniting us all :)

    MiniKat -- ooh! Do you have photos of your crewelwork? I haven't tried it yet, but I'm longing to be inspired!

    Rosanna -- I'm sorry you won't find that screen there, but Cookie's work is really, really pretty.

    Daydreamer -- I don't know if I'm up for it -- the thing I like about needlepoint is that the stitch length is all worked out for you. Crewel and other kinds of embroidery just seem a bit like free-fall to me :)

    Glenda -- I love the faded colours, too, especially in a more modern setting. I admit I'd tone down some of the vibrancy of the original Jacobean colours in a "period" setting, just because I like my colours a little greyed. Sue Heaser recommends a single strand of cotton for the crewel project in her book -- from reading, I gather the important thing about crewel wool in 1:1 is that it's spun from a very long staple fibre, so cotton should be okay.

  8. Nina,

    Thank you for telling me. I should have known better. Still I would like to try something that fine. I think that answer is to look at full size peices and scale them down.
    Your stitching all looks great. I hope you are enjoying it. :-)

  9. Hi Nina,

    Thanks so much for your very kind comments on my miniature crewel kits. For you and others who think it is difficult to do in one inch scale, it really isn't. Because of its size, I do not include difficult stitches, just the basics many people already know, i.e. Lazy Daisy, Outline (Stem), Split, Satin. I give a complete stitch guide and diagram with each kit and also sell a very inexpensive ($4) separate Stitching Guide so you don't need a crewel embroidery book. Please give them a try and take a look at my new web site, created for the embroideries and my oil paintings Embroidery is not boring because it is not the same exact motion done thousands of times! Thanks and enjoy!

  10. To answer all of your questions about the origin of the screen in this is a design by Phillipa Turnbull of the Crewel Work Company based in the UK. The design and picture might I add are copyrighted but it is available in a kit. Go to
    Dangerous Mezzo, please either ask permission or credit next time you use such images!! Many thanks

  11. You're absolutely right -- I generally do give credit, but I failed to do so this time. I'm so sorry! The Phillipa Turnbull 1:1 crewel kits are gorgeous and among the finest available :)


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